Electra Havemeyer Webb collected objects that tickled her fancy. Her signature sense of whimsy can be found throughout Shelburne Museum. Indeed, to visit her museum is to enter a landscape of buildings, gardens, and collections designed to delight while they educate. Certain objects she gathered for their pure ability to amuse or entertain. Humorous genre paintings, a clown automaton, tin flowers, and the trade sign of a dentist named “Comfort” all found a home at Shelburne Museum. The strategies Mrs. Webb employed to display her collection intensified this sense of wonder by creating a surprise and discovery around every corner. From her first folk art purchase of a cigar store figure in the early 20th century to one of her final acquisitions, Andrew Wyeth’s Soaring in 1960, a sense of the unexpected — of joy and playfulness — infused Electra Webb’s collecting.


Whimsy in Music
A playlist by Helen Lyons, host of VPR Classical

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by The Donna and Marvin Schwartz Foundation and the Barnstormers at Shelburne Museum.

hat box
young woman's hand holding a flower
cake board
stencil box